By Bonnie Andrews
Surviving as a student at BYU can be complicated, but being a mother and a student at BYU creates a greater complication.
Daniela Alvarez is one of the many BYU students who are mothers.
Although her situation may seem common to the BYU community, it is an individual experience for each mother.
“For everyone it is a decision you have to make,” Alvarez said, a graduate student studying public administration. “Church leaders encourage women to get an education and they say if you are educated you can teach your children; now I can see that.”
BYU offers support, friends give support and the church is a wonderful resource. But no one can do it alone, Alvarez said.
Women”s Resources and Services, on campus, offer mothers a variety of support. Most of the support comes through optional counseling, conferences and monthly lectures, said Loretta Muldoon, office manager of the Women”s Resources and Services.
“Because of legal complications we aren”t able to offer child care services on campus, or even offer suggestions,” Muldoon said. “We can only refer them to Mountainland Child Care Resource and referral, a UVSC program, funded by the Utah Office of Child Care.”
Complications for mothers as students can range from financial difficulty and finding child care to simply feeling out of place and uncomfortable on campus.
“The desks on campus are not big enough, especially the last two months of pregnancy,” said Danette Schellhous, a senior majoring in history. “I felt there was a stigma at BYU, that if you are pregnant people are looking at you thinking, oh, you must be graduating or you”re not going to finish.”
“When people would look at me I”d be like, I wonder what you”re thinking. Am I one of those people to you? Is that what you”re thinking about me?” Schellhous said.
Another mother at BYU said she agreed it is a challenge to balance being a mother and a full-time student.
“I chose my major when I was single and ambitious,” said Alanna Moody, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. “I”ve always wanted to graduate from a university. I may have switched my major, but I would have finished.”
“My pregnancy was a novel thing in the engineering department so they were willing to accommodate me.”
Meeting deadlines is a hard thing when there is lab work, Moody said.
“There are days I”m in the lab that my son is in the stroller screaming and I”m having to run him out in the hallway so he”s not disturbing anyone else; those make fun days,” she said.
All three women said they agreed the choice to become a mother and continue school was a leap of faith, but nothing could change their decisions.
“My house falls apart, you know, because I have to use his nap time to get school work done instead of clean the house,” Moody said. “I usually try to stay up a little later or wake up a little earlier to get work done.”
“It is so worth it,” Alvarez said. “You don”t realize what you are capable of if you don”t stretch yourself, and it”s really rewarding. Your faith grows, and you depend on the Lord everyday. Knowing that I am not the only one makes it easier.”